Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A car of tomorrow forgotten today

"Ahead of its time" is a term offered as an excuse for any number of automotive flops. I once owned an Edsel which some people say was too ahead of its time. In reality the Edsel was aggressively futuristic but it was released into a now-forgotten mini recession market saturated with cars from the postwar shopping spree. The following car, while ahead of its time, was just too pricey and didn't quite have the doo-dads enthusiasts wanted. It was also too pricey. Regardless I was surprised to see one parked on the Carroll Gardens/Gowanus border recently:
This is a 1992 Subaru SVX in Pure White (as opposed to the also available Polar White).
In the background you can see the highest elevation subway station in the world. I realize this sounds like an oxymoron, but so did the notion of a high performance Subaru in these pre-Impreza and WRX days. Subaru was known for their quirky 4wd wagons, frumpy DL sedans and coupes, and bizarre BRAT in the '80s and early '90s. Seemingly out of nowhere came this exciting grand tourer.
The design of this ride came from the pen of Giorgetto Giugiaro who was responsible for such landmark vehicles as the DeLorean, Lotus Esprit, and VW Golf. That doesn't change the fact that this wrap-around window glass reminds me of the Ford Probe.
There's no secret code to break here folks - the SVX stands for Subaru Vehicle X. It was available with only one drivetrain option; a flat 6 cylinder mated to an automatic transmission. The engine was remarkably powerful and efficient but the lack of a manual transmission kept the SVX from being an immediate widespread success with the high-horsepower rally set.
 This example has been around a bit with scuffs and scrapes all over.
This ride was perhaps a bit too ambitious when it came out and sales were sluggish. To top it all off this car was no joke expensive at the time. They've always been scarce but now are truly rare. Like anything high performance and obscure the SVX now enjoys a cult following. Many owners elect to swap in a 5 speed manual to complete the sports cars they think Subaru only started.
*No matter high high tech your ride was when new you can expect to see jumper cables on the back seat when it hits 25 years of age,
Perhaps the most unique design feature is on display here with the window within a window treatment. Subaru bragged that it was airplane technology and helped immensely with the drag coefficient, etc, but the public thought it was weird. This car is the successor to the Subaru XT which was also an aerodynamic 2 door coupe. It was much more angular in design and looked like the rest of the Subaru lineup.
Over the span of 1991-1996 only 14,000+ were produced. At only 2,333 per year it can be a tough ride to track down. Some people do search them out as the performance was fast and tight, and you'll never be lost in the classic Japanese crowd. I'd like to drive one for a couple hours and give it back. Replacing parts on 25 year old computerized cars can be ruinous. Take a good look though as you might not see another!

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